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Ciptapangan Visitor
Bandung grapples with spread of bird flu virus
posted by admin on 11/08/06

uli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

A vaccination drive has failed to halt the spread of the bird flu virus in poultry populations in Bandung.

Infected chickens have been discovered in three new locations -- Margasenang, Cigadung and Sukagalih subdistricts. The virus has now been identified in eight of the city's 26 subdistricts in the past two years.

Bird flu had earlier been discovered in chickens in the subdistricts of Gegerkalong in Sukasari district; Dago in Coblong; Babakan Tarogong in Bojong Loa Kaler; Sindangjaya in Arcamanik; and Pasirluyu in Regol district.

In tests conducted by a team from the Bandung Agricultural Office, nine of 13 blood samples from chickens in the three latest subdistricts tested positive for the virus.

Also, dead and infected chickens are still being reported in the Dago area, despite a cull that was performed at the end of July.

Bandung Agricultural Office head Yogi Supardjo has ordered poultry in the three new subdistricts to be kept in their cages. He said the virus was being spread through wild birds, as well as by poultry owned by residents unwilling to have their birds vaccinated.

"We urge people to pay attention to this matter. We have sent officers door-to-door to conduct vaccinations," Yogi said in Bandung on Wednesday.

The head of the veterinary department at the West Java Animal Husbandry Office, Nana M. Adnan, said the bird flu virus also had been detected in Bekasi. He said the virus continued to spread because vaccinations had yet to be carried out in many areas.

"We conducted a mass vaccination in May and should have repeated the procedure in July. But not all residents have cooperated by voluntarily handing over their poultry," Nana said.

Only four of 25 regencies and mayoralties in West Java remain free from the virus: Banjar, Karawang, Cimahi and Tasikmalaya.

There are an estimated 30 million free-range chickens in residential areas in the province. Last year an estimated 21 million domesticated birds in West Java died suddenly. Most of these cases involved quails, with only about 3,900 free-range chickens.

Nana said the main targets of the vaccination drive against the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus were free-range chickens and domesticated birds, which are believed to be the main areas of infection.

However, the program faces several hurdles. In addition to uncooperative poultry owners, authorities also must deal with a shortage of vaccines. The West Java Husbandry Office is still waiting on the delivery of 10 million doses of the vaccine from the central government.

"We have used eight million ampules of vaccine from the 18 million we earlier proposed for areas where infections have been found and those areas prone to the disease. However, we haven't received the rest yet," Nana said.

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